This latest film from Christopher Guest (Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel) takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the world of professional mascots, those stalwart individuals who don outlandish costumes and help to promote football teams/organisations/products around the world, usually by prancing about to a musical backing.  This is a Netflix original, but Guest’s methods seem to be largely unchanged from the likes of earlier films, Best In Show and A Mighty Wind. Like so many of his ‘mockumentaries’ this follows a bunch of random characters as they prepare themselves for the equivalent of their Oscars, the Fluffies, cutting effortlessly from scene to scene as the action unfolds.

The Mascots themselves include: young Englishman, Owen Golly Jr. (Tom Bennett), carrying on a family tradition as football mascot, Sid the Hedgehog, under the baleful glare of his dad, who formerly played the role; Mike and Mindy Murray (Zach Woods and Sarah Baker), a middle-aged couple desperately trying to rock their double act despite the fact that their marriage is falling apart; and art-obsessed Cindi Babineaux (Parker Posey), whose armadillo character seems aimed at an entirely different audience. And, of course, the judges and organisers prove to be a thorny bunch, most of them coming to the competition with their own hidden agendas. Guest himself performs a cameo as Corky St Clair, a pretentious dance trainer helping to put Cindi through her paces. British comic Kerry Godliman also makes an appearance as Owen’s delightful and supportive wife – making them pretty much the only non-dysfunctional couple in the entire movie.

This is wry, whimsical stuff, not exactly laugh-out-loud funny, but nicely judged and constantly amusing. It’s evident just how many artists – from Ricky Gervais to Larry David – have taken inspiration from the Spinal Tap model, which –  back in 1984 – was one of the first feature films to venture down the spoof documentary trail.

Mascots is right there on Netflix, and, if you’re already a customer, you’d be crazy not to check it out.

4.2 stars

Philip Caveney


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